Category Archives: weaving

Lace Weave All by Myself

After completing the linen and lace course with Kay Faulkner I felt confident and eager to get started on a project I had put on the Dorset loom over the Christmas break, an Atwater Bronson table runner in 3/2 cotton.

Working in the coarser 3/2 cotton was a joy because it was easy to spot and correct mistakes. It was also good to be working with a coloured yarn. The finer white linen we used during the course added another little hurdle for a beginner such as myself as errors were tricky to spot. Weaving in my own space, at my own pace further helped to reduce the error rate.

My own design variant

I made two runners, one following faithfully the project instructions in Pattie Graver’s Next Steps in Weaving and the other to my own design.

The projects in the Next Steps book are particularly well described and tell you everything you need to know, such as sett, width in the reed etc in a way where you can find the essential information quickly, without having waste energy scanning the text. I do recommend the book for anyone beginning their weaving journey, as I am.

This runner was done by the book

Lessons in Linen and Lace

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Class Samples

I spent last week in the greater Brisbane area attending a weaving workshop taught by Kay Faulkner, who is both an expert weaver and an expert teacher.

Over five days our group of four students learned the theory and practice of huck, spot Bronson, Bronson and Swedish lace using beautiful 18/2 Swedish linen.

Kay had warped the looms for us in advance and we rotated between them to make our class samples.

I enjoyed having the opportunity to compare an eight shaft jack loom and an eight shaft Glimåkra countermarche loom. The pressure was on though, as we had five days to make our samples and almost all of the information was new to me. Kay provided correction and guidance on technique. Apparently there is no need for a temple or stretcher when your shuttle technique is correct. All I can say is that my selvages improved over the five days.

Sadly for me every sample I completed had at least one mistake in it, the worst sample being the first I attempted and the one I named The Spot Bronson of Shame. That sample was the first on my steep learning curve and I came away from the course a more informed weaver with a thirst for more learning and more time at the loom.

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I would recommend Kay’s workshops to anyone wanting to intensively focus on developing their skills, especially if you have some weaving experience and your goal is technical mastery.

Rosepath Revisted in Dish Towels

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The first towel

My first attempt at rosepath didn’t yield the results I was expecting. The only thing to do was try again, this time with a series of four tea towels (dish towels) in mind.

I am using 8/4 carpet warp cotton for the warp and weft. The borders are 8/2 cotton doubled. I chose to use 8/4 carpet warp after reading Tom Knisely’s baby blanket project description in Handwoven Magazine (Nov/Dec 2016) where he describes it as a yarn that is cost effective and one that softens with use and washing. I used the 16 epi twill sett that is in the project notes and warped my loom using Osma Tod’s ‘authentic way of weaving rosepath’ draft, detailed in her wonderful book The Joy of Hand Weaving. Her drafts are written for a sinking shed loom and I was glad I noticed that before I started weaving on my jack loom.

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Effective but Ugly Pirn Winder

This project had brought different mistakes, new learnings and another first. I am using a boat shuttle for the first time, with paper pirns, wound using Tinkerer’s battery-operated drill. It’s an ugly solution but it seems to be effective. I bought a piece of 3mm brass rod to use as a spindle and am attaching the pirns to the spindle using a small piece of masking tape (painter’s tape.) I’m sure the purists will disapprove but it will do for now. One day I might have a fancy bobbin winder.
The weaving width is 18 inches in the reed and I am weaving each towel to a length of 30 inches under tension. The goal is that each towel will measure 17 by 28 inches after wet finishing and hemming but as I’m still weaving towel #3, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

By the way, the border element in the first towel pictured above has a mistake (one of many) that is visible if you zoom in on the photo. The second towel has no mistakes that I know of at this stage and the third seems to be coming along nicely.

A Rag Rug of Firsts

This rag rag was always intended to be a test. It was the first time I used warp from my big cone of 8/4 cotton rug warp, a first time using a temple (stretcher), a first time finishing a rug with a turned edge and a first time weaving with a rose path threading.

Rag rug made with old sheets and shirts for weft

The hemmed ends are a first


 
Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t keep threading after you start feeling tired. You will regret it when you find yourself rethreading the following day.
  2. Measure twice, cut once. I was two warp threads short. The problem was easily solved with a new length of warp and some washers for weights, but I had to think about how to solve it.
  3. Using a temple is well worthwhile. No draw in visible this time.
  4. It’s worth the time sewing strips together for the weft but this only worked well for me with the main pattern 1 1/2 inch strips.  The sewn joins on the narrower 1cm strips that I used for the hemmed edges pulled apart under tension.
  5. Worn out sheets make excellent weft strips. This rug has a combination of worn fabrics (old sheets and shirts) and new fabrics (the dark blue is a remnant and the brown is a never used bed skirt from the op shop.) The worn fabrics packed in better and were less rigid in the finished mat.
  6. Don’t be frightened to make up your own design. Magazines and books are great but so are your pencil, your calculator and your mind. One of the reasons I bought the huge mill end spool of cotton rug warp was so I could experiment freely without worrying about wasting expensive rug warp.

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The rose path threading yielded sections with patterns that remind me of the beach. It’s a lot less formal a look than I had in mind but I like the unstructured look. Having said that, the rose path border patterns I tried to achieve were a total bust. I don’t know what went wrong and I’m keen to try again.

I plan to have a crack at dying the warp next. I like the yellow, but I also like variety.

Nomadic Weaving Sami Style

I’m away from my big looms right now. My temporary status as a nomadic person gives me the opportunity to try my hand at Sami style band or tape weaving. The Sami are the nomadic peoples of northern Scandinavia but the tape weaving tradition is well established  in Sweden also.

If you’re interested in getting up and running with this technique yourself, this Band Weaving site, written in Swedish, has photos that illustrate the components clearly enough that you could get by without reading the words.
Here’s my kit.

Wooden band weaving supplies, backstrap and heddle

Portable. Perfect!

Here’s my warping board. In my enthusiasm, I forgot to make a cross and I paid the price with tangles later, but it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed.

And here’s the work in progress.

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Not bad for my first project

I plan to apply steam to finish the tape to try and get it smoother but first there is a lot more weaving to do. Next I will experiment with different fibres and colours. The fine holes on the Stoorstålka heddle are a bit limiting on using heavier yarn for the pattern threads it seems to me. I wonder how others have dealt with that. I can’t be the first.

From Learner of Weaving to Teacher of Weaving

One of the most useful courses I have participated in in my professional life was a people management course where one of the requirements was to take one of the learning modules back to our work groups and teach the material. The objective was for us to observe how we learned differently when we had the role of teacher, rather than of student. This was in the days before budgetary constraints forced most professional development onto the online space. Online and intranet based training might be appropriate for compliance training, such as the requirements of the Competition and Consumer Regulations Act, which my employer requires us all to understand, but there are only so many ‘soft-skills’ you can learn via online learning. In my opinion, the same applies to hands on skills like weaving.

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Introductory Weaving: Class in Progress

It hasn’t been long since I completed the Hand weavers and Spinners Guild introductory weaving course, but with a little experience under my belt and a pretty decent reference library in my studio, I was happy to offer my services as teaching assistant in the current introductory course that is being offered over four full day Sundays.

Being a teacher has, indeed, made be a better learner. In addition to getting to know a charming and varied group of students, including an artist, a student of fashion and an early childhood educator, I have had the opportunity to help others with their warping, fetch and carry for the teacher and inspire others. I brought along my waffle weave scarf to show the class members my first project. One of the group decided she wanted to do a similar design so I added waffle weave to the class sampler. You can see the student’s sampler below. One of the major leanings for this student was the importance of an even beat, which she is well on the way to mastering.

The student had already done part of a previous introductory course at the guild. She brought in her work from that previous class and it was evident how far she had progressed since then, as the quality of her current work was way above what she achieved the first time.

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Student Sampler

A beginners class puts a big load on the teacher, especially at the warp preparation stage. We all learn at different paces and I was able to help one student who needed to understand the why as well as the what, while our teacher guided those with a faster learning style.

It’s been great fun and I recommend teaching to those who might be interested in seeing what they learn as a teacher, not a student.

All photos were taken and published with permission.

 

New Dorset Folding Loom

One of my guild friends is moving house and decluttering. Somehow we got to talking about that and she asked if I might be interested in buying her folding loom.

I didn’t have to think long about that one as I have coveted her loom (in the nicest possible way) when she has brought it to guild workshops. She seemed so comfortable and self sufficient sitting at her fold up loom while the rest of us cramped each other’s style and gave ourselves shoulder fatigue with our table looms all in a row.

Now that beautiful loom is mine.

Dorset Loom

I thought it might be a Dorset, make in New England, USA and an application of Scandinavian oil to the wood over the Easter holiday confirmed that. The Dorset name was stamped into the wood under the raddle. I think the raddle storage position on top of the castle is an innovation from my friend’s engineer husband, who like my beloved, is an enabler of her loom and yarn collecting as well as a provider of technical support.

The shafts move smoothly and the folding loom is easier to transport than my Ashford table loom. I’m also really pleased to have something that was owned by my friend, as she’s a terrific person and a good weaving mentor. We haven’t been able to spend much time together yet, but I’ve offered her loom visitation rights whenever she wants.

Mt first project will be two tea towels from the Ann Field book.

The Ashford table loom is on notice – behave or get sent to to an online auction.